Localisation pattern of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells is associated with clinical behaviour in gastric cancer

Br J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;98(1):148-53. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604149. Epub 2007 Dec 18.


It has been reported that the population of regulatory T cells (T regs) is increased in tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes in cancer-bearing hosts. Recently, forkhead/winged helix transcription factor p3, Foxp3, is thought to be the most reliable marker of T regs. In the present study, we investigated the prevalence and localisation pattern of Foxp3+ cells in gastric cancer (n=80) by immunohistochemistry, in relation to the clinical outcome of gastric cancer patients. Immunohistochemical staining was performed with anti-Foxp3 mAb, and Foxp3+ cells were semiquantified. We divided all cases into two groups: Foxp3+ -high (n=40) and Foxp3+ -low (n=40) groups, by the median size of the population of Foxp3+ cells. Furthermore, in terms of the localisation pattern of accumulating Foxp3+ cells in tumours, we classified all cases into three groups: a peri-tumour group (n=30), a diffuse group (n=40), and a follicular group (n=10). As a result, although the populations of Foxp3+ cells in stage IV were significantly larger than those in stage I (P<0.05), there was no significant difference in survival between the patients with high and low population levels of Foxp3+ cells. However, survival in patients with a diffuse pattern of Foxp3+ cells was significantly poorer than in those with a peri-tumoral pattern. In conclusion, the localisation pattern, but not the population size, of Foxp3+ cells was significantly related to patient survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / immunology
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / pathology
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques / methods
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Stomach Neoplasms / immunology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology
  • Survival Rate
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*


  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors